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Fit as a fiddle

Good things await those who decide to get off the couch, start working-out and begin living a healthier lifestyle, says fitness aficionado Pujjuut Kusugak of Rankin Inlet.

Sam Kaludjak, Vestal Netser, Denise Martin, Logan Illnik and Blake Kusugak, from left, show off their 'guns' during a training session with Pujjuut Kusugak in Rankin Inlet on Oct 20. Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Kusugak wanted his son, Qaritaq Kusugak, to be prepared for any off-ice training that may come his way and be ready for the upcoming hockey season, so he decided if he was going to tell Qaritaq to do it, then it was important for him to do it too and set a good example.

Once he started, Pujjuut said he was very lucky to have someone like Jordin Tootoo show him a few things he does in the off-season to keep in shape, as well as friends in Rankin and Iqaluit who were heavily into fitness and provided him with a lot of tips.

He said Instagram and magazines like Men's Health were also a big help in looking up different exercises and routines.

“Other than when I might overdo it a bit and feel really sore from exercising, I find I feel really good most of the time now,” said Pujjuut.

“I learned from different people, and then I taught my son and Tyrese Dias, and then going to the gym and seeing them teaching other people was a good feeling.

“It can be a thing that continues on and a mentorship happens just by the process. My cousin, Atuat Shouldice, asked me for a simple routine when he started this past January and now he and I are gym partners, which is important because having someone work out with you makes a huge difference by giving you a bit of motivation and challenge, while also helping to keep you from getting bored.”

Pujjuut says working out can also be a social activity.

He says many people don't realize the gym is such a supportive place, because people encourage you and tell you that they're happy to see you there.

“It's so important for our communities to have these gyms and one of the huge benefits of getting physically active is, of course, better overall health and well-being,” he said.

“These things go hand in hand in giving you a better overall lifestyle.”

With a little break here and there, Pujjuut has been working-out regularly for the past five years.

He said he notices when he's been away from the gym for a few months, because he starts to feel sluggish and less productive.

“I feel a lot less stress when I'm going to the gym regularly, I feel better about myself, I can focus a lot better at work or just living life in general, I sleep better, and I watch what I eat a lot more,” he said.

“You don't want the work you put in at the gym to go to waste, so you try to watch what you eat a bit more and you're drinking a lot more water, and all of these things just start automatically bringing better overall health into your life.

“I know it's hard because we all have really busy lives, but I encourage everyone to give it an honest try and go for a good three weeks when you begin. You're going to feel sore at the beginning, but, eventually, you're going to feel so much better and you'll find that there's never a bad day at the gym.”